World Jewish News
British group banned from 4 US states for boycotting Israeli settlements
10.08.2017, Israel and the World
A British retail group has has been banned from four US states, Florida, Illinois, New York and Arizona, because of it boycotts goods originating from West Bank communities, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
The Co-operative Group, based in Manhester and founded in 1844, has businesses in food, banking, insurance, funerals and legal services.
It operates what it calls ‘’ethical’’ policies, meaning its stores have not stocked settlement products since 2009. Five years ago, members expanded the ban to include Israeli companies trading in the settlements. On its website, the Co-op said that “exceptional circumstances” meant it had withdrawn trade from “the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.
Arizona included the Co-op on a “prohibited investment list” in March, alongside a series of financial firms and banks.
New York State’s office of general services listed it as one of more than a dozen “institutions or companies determined to participate in boycott, divestment or sanctions activity targeting Israel” in May, as did Illinois’ investment policy board.
The State Board of Administration of Florida said it had scrutinised the Co-op after being directed to create a “list of companies that participate in a boycott of Israel, including actions that limit commercial relations with Israel or Israeli controlled territories”.
Luke Akehurst, director of the We Believe in Israel grassroots group which campaigns against boycotts, said: “The Co-op Group’s boycott of certain Israeli suppliers has done nothing to advance peace and coexistence or to help the Palestinians.
“All it has achieved is to alienate Jewish and other pro-Israel customers from the Co-op and now to get them added to a list of BDS-supporting companies that several US states can’t invest in.
“They need to drop this damaging and divisive policy and instead contribute positively to supporting their sister Co-operative movements in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
Almost half the US Senate and more than 50 per cent of the House of Representatives signed a proposed bill last month which, if it becomes law, would ban boycotts of Israel. Companies which violate the bill could face fines of up to $1 million and executives could be jailed.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (IABA) is far-reaching, prohibiting individuals from even seeking information about such boycotts, with violations subject to a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.